Thomas M. Disch
A last judgment on the genre from science fiction's foremost critic


This collection by the much-loved and lauded science-fiction writer Thomas Disch spans twenty-five years of his career, during which he has supplemented his creative output with reviews and critical essays in publications as diverse as the Nation, the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and Twilight Zone.

Disch's perspectives on his genre are skeptical, novel, and often incendiary. The volume's opening essay, for example, characterizes writers of science fiction as "the provincials of literature." Other essays explore science fiction's roots—Poe, Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov, Vonnegut—as well as modern practitioners such as Stephen King, Philip Dick, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and William Gibson.

Disch entertains and provokes with essays on UFOs, Science Fiction as a Church, and Newt Gingrich's Futurist Brain Trust. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Madame Blavatsky also get the Disch treatment. Throughout, the writing is lively, agile, and irreverent, exhibiting an incisive honesty that is undiluted by Disch's own attachments as a sci-fi practitioner. On SF will appeal equally to lovers of science fiction and connoisseurs of the finest critical prose.

Thomas M. Disch is master of many literary genres, including science fiction, poetry, drama, and children's literature. He is the author of numerous books, including The Genocides and Camp Concentration. Other books from the University of Michigan Press include The Castle of Perseverance and A Child's Garden of Grammar.

Praise / Awards

  • "From critical assessments of his contemporaries to the roots of science fiction which may be observed in modern writings, Disch offers a range of essays on everything from UFOs and the origins of Christianity to the unsung and too-few heroes of the short fiction genre. Critical, controversial--and thought provoking, On SF from Science Fiction's Foremost Critic is for any who would think outside the box."
    MBR: Internet Bookwatch

  • ". . . for the reader who is able to maintain a sensible critical distance from SF, this is a valuable and enlightening critical survey by one of SF's best critics."
    Science Fiction Research Association Review

  • "Here are collections of essays and book reviews that reveal Disch's passions and belief about modern-day SF: its power to transform, to make us rethink the real and imaginary, to make a real impact on American and world literature. . . . Disch could be our greatest critic. He ranks up there with the Damon Knights and the John Clutes of the world. . . ."
    True Review

  • ". . . a valuable and enlightening critical survey by one of SF's best critics."
    What Do I Read Next?, Neil Barron, vol. 1, 2006 (Gale)

Look Inside

Part 1: The Forest

Part 2: Forefathers

Part 3: The Bully Pulpit

Part 4: Selected Larger Trees

Part 5: Crazy Neighbors

Part 6: After the Future

Copyright © 2005, Thomas M. Disch. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.25.
  • 280pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09896-5

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  • $89.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2005
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06896-8

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  • $28.95 U.S.